Dr. Boyce: Reality TV and the Toxic Mind of a Young Female Bully

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I find myself consistently fascinated at how angry and ugly women can be on Vh-1 reality shows.  Rather than attempting to understand the inner beauty that makes a human being lovable, too many seem to think that attraction comes down to long hair, a short dress and a shapely backside.

The women on these reality shows actually scare me.  They seem determined to remain consistently angry at someone about something.  There is almost nothing that would make me proud to have them as daughters, sisters or mothers in my own family.  The idea that these women are serving as role models for an entire generation of young women is sad, sick and disturbing.

“Unfortunately I do think that reality TV has spawned a whole culture of bullying,” Phaedra Parks told the Associated Press. “I believe that the behavior you see on reality TV does not exactly exemplify how adults should be conducting themselves.”

Many reality TV shows, most specifically Real Housewives and Basketball Wives, are being accused of the promotion of bullying among young girls who are still learning how to resolve their disputes with one another.  Young women may find it fashionable and powerful to engage in consistent outbursts of anger, intimidation and name-calling in order to achieve dominance, rather than attempting to make peace and support one another.

Kandi Burress of the Real Housewives of Atlanta does not agree with my assessment.

“A lot of people try to find reasons or ways to blame people or situations for their grief or sadness,” Burruss said. “Personally, I think reality TV is a mimic of what’s happening in real life, not the other way around. People have always had arguments, and there’s always been cliques.”

Even though reality television didn’t invent bullying, it certainly glorified, elevated, and mass marketed the concept.  I was once forced by a woman I dated to watch shows like Basketball Wives every night (the things we do for love).  I figured that watching the show might be good research for the things I write about, so I agreed.  I admit that I spent much of my time in awe, wondering how women could be so treacherous toward one another.

As I observed  the show, I noticed that exactly 100% of the promotional segments featured some kind of confrontation:  In every case,  someone was being physically attacked, verbally assaulted, double crossed or gossiped into the ground.  The women seemed to form glamour mafia factions against one another, always planning their next invasion.  I can’t imagine the stress of living under that kind of pressure.

Terrie Williams, author of “Black Pain,” once made a profound statement to me:  “Hurt people, tend to hurt people,” she said.  So, when I think about the high-heeled Wildebeests on Basketball Wives, I wonder what kind of pain they’ve experienced to make them so determined to mutilate the soul of another human being.  When you consider how many women of color have had their hearts broken by the first man in their life (daddy), it puts this rampant emotional violation into context.

When I see shows like Basketball Wives, I think about my own daughters and behavior I’d  seen from them when they were at their worst.  When one makes the connection, you can’t help but see the direct impact that these shows can have on impressionable young minds.  It seems ironic that at the highest levels of government, we are seeking to bring bullying to an end (even criminalizing it), yet on television, we are actually encouraging it.

Since sex and violence always sell, there’s no point in expecting these shows to go off the air.  But perhaps we can turn the television off when our kids are watching this kind of stuff, and talk to one another about being loving and supporting, rather than trying to find someone to smack upside the head.  It’s damn stressful to be angry all the time, and there’s nothing appealing about an ‘ignant’ woman always looking for a fight.

We have GOT to do better.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Dr. Boyce: Reality TV and the Toxic Mind of a Young Female Bully

  1. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Are We Teaching Our Girls How to Bully One Another? « Your Black Politics

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  13. jenkinsk

    My father used to say, “…I like my coffee with no cream, a little bit of cream, or a whole lot of cream…the amount of cream doesn’t matter to me. But the one thing my coffe must have is a whole lot of sugar. If it ain’t sweet…I don’t want it. If it has been sitting out to long and gone cold…I don’t want it. Cold, , and bitter coffee is stale…stale ass coffee is not for me. Son, if you are smart you will NEVER accept anything but a fresh cup of coffee…regardless of the amount of cream.

    Both my brother and I listened to our father and have both been happilly married to outstanind women for 20 and 15 years, and have produced a total of 5 outstanding children between us. Obviously we like sweet, fresh coffee…not this cold, bitter, stale crap being marketed to us on TV and online.

    Peace

  14. Trechena Grier

    Dr. Boyce, I totally agree with you, I think it disturbing to have these types of shows in our home dis truing our young kids mind. I pray for the next generation and for GOD to step in.

  15. Philjaz

    Dr Boyce,

    My wife wouldn’t watch two seconds of that garbage. I’m suprised you didn’t run for the hills the minute your date started watching it! Only stupid people watch these shows!

  16. Elaine

    I total Agree, these Reality Shows are just aweful for our children to be watching:( As you heard President Obama do not let his girls watch the Kardashains and I don’t blame him:) I watch the Kardashains few times and I notice how Kim little sisters talk back to there father so disrepectful, so I just stop watching:( I’m not a fan of Reality Shows at all I notice LA Basketball wives that Jackie she’s a “BULLY” These ladies act like 8th graders and it’s so sad that young girls see this and they start to act out what they see on tv,..and so much profanity and I notice a preview of Hip Hop girls or something now that show should come at all it’s seems very scary to watch so much fighting between womans fighting over this man it’s so crazy…What is coming of our childrens today…

  17. I agree that there is too much going on these days with bullying and fighting. I also think that if parents are letting their children watch these shows, that they should also explain to them that these show are for entertainment purposes only. Our children should be learning from the parents on how to properly conduct themselves and how to treat other people. If your child is out there bullying people and treating them badly, they are getting it from the people that are around them daily, not from the television.

  18. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Reality TV and the Toxic Mind of a Young Female Bully « The Industry Cosign

  19. Us Blacks folks have to do better. This T.V. and radio is killing us!
    http://www.blackconvo.com

  20. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Reality TV and the Toxic Mind of a Young Female Bully « WCN TRANSMEDIA GROUP

  21. Dr. Boyce Great question that I have posed to my Womans Transmedia Forums with hopes that the launch of WCN will do a better job of woman’s programming on WCNTV. Thanks so much for fueling the discussion.

  22. Robert

    I was raised in a home with 10 women 9 sisters and a mother. My father taught us right from wrong and respect for elders and authority figures. My foundation was well laid prior to grade school. I also had 3 brothers. What I find so unique about my home was this, There was one set of rules,my father set those and no one questioned those rules and everyone of us followed them, Our ages rage today from 73 yrs down to 58. One of my brothers has experienced being in jail for a few years. The remainder of the family learned the rules of this game of life and have been productive citizens of this great nation all of our lives. I have personally observed all of my adult life PARENTS trying to rise children without discipline. Spare the rod and spoile the child became the norm. Sorry Masters and Johnson you had it all WRONG. 800,000 plus minorities in JAIL and many of them GIRLS.
    At age 67 I heard of reality shows for the first time Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball wives of LA. Just seeing my first program,all of those beautiful Black Women captured my attention hands down. When I saw them in action I was completely shocked. I excepted the hair styles and big butts and beautiful cloths but the WAY THEY TREATED each other was savage and brutal for ladies. The husbands for these women must have been raised without parents and without God in there home. Completely classless. The owners of tv networks that market this awful program have never known the grace of God. GOD HELP US ALL. We have become a nation of sick and disturbed human beings. IN GOD WE TRUST IS JUST A BIG LIE. GOD HAS LEFT AMERICA AND WE DON’T CARE.

  23. this is a tv thing
    nor a black thing
    the white reality stars are more violent/dumber/amoral etc

  24. this is a tv thing
    not a black thing
    the white reality stars are more violent/dumber/amoral etc

  25. Miss P
    This is all due to a lack of spirituality

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